Dirty Birdies and Loaded Diapers

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Not all of our marketing ideas can be good ones. In fact, sometimes we encounter outright failures and bellflops. I stumbled upon a couple that truly missed the mark and figured I’d share them with you in the spirit of education. Think of it as a “What Not To Do” for marketing.

The first one is a real stinker. Angry moms across this country of ours have taken to Facebook and their blogs to express their extreme displeasure with Pampers with Dry Max. Keyboards were sent clacking when the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission launched an investigation earlier this month. The commish had received dozens of complaints that the alleged super diaper was causing rashes and chemical burns. (Ouch!) The dreaded mommy bloggers were unleashed and Pampers found itself in the eye of a public relations hurricane. The blogosphere demanded that Pampers maker Proctor and Gamble recall the product while marketing insiders proclaimed the company had dropped a deuce with the new diaper. P&G further missed the mark by trying to, ahem, poo-poo the issue, saying that the product tested well and insisting the number of unsatisfied customers is blown way out of proportion. The giant could have made matters better by releasing blogs, video testimony and a social media campaign of its own to combat the negative online buzz, but failed to do so. The score? Mommy bloggers: 1, Pampers: 0.

The next one I think suffers from “Too Soon?” syndrome. Dawn dish washing soap long has partnered with wildlife agencies to clean up birds and other animals affected by disasters. But Dawn’s move to publicize its part in helping during the aftermath of the most recent oil spill in the gulf coast left many consumers feeling manipulated. Dawn’s Twitter and Facebook pages were armed with bird rescue updates and splashy reminders that the company donated 2,000 bottles of dish soap to the effort. Also churned out by P&G, Dawn’s campaign rates an “eww” on my scale for several reasons. Sure, it’s fabulous that the company helps animals in need. But using this ecological nightmare as a PR boost is just gnarly. Also, the efforts seem like a drop in the bucket for a mega-company like P&G which, by the way, produces most of its products using petroleum. Yes, we’re all happy the birdies are clean… but why does the whole thing leave us feeling so dirty?

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